Grabow feels strong enough to make a difference

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Grabow feels strong enough to make a difference

Thursday, March 17, 2011Posted: 7:00 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

PHOENIX John Grabow will make 4.8 million this year, or essentially as much as Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol combined. The Cubs need him to be the bridge to the back end of their bullpen.

The blueprint was drawn up so that Wood and Sean Marshall will be protecting leads and Marmol wont go weeks between save opportunities. The strength of this team wont matter if the Cubs are trailing 5-2 and losing the middle innings.

Grabow earned that two-year deal because he was so durable and effective, two traits he did not show last season. He tried to pitch through the pain in his left knee and live up to his contract but couldnt.

The Cubs werent overly concerned about Grabows sore left shoulder, but they had to be encouraged after seeing him on the mound Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The 32-year-old reliever hadnt pitched in a game since the Cactus League opener on Feb. 27.

As Grabow walked back to the dugout after working a scoreless seventh inning, manager Mike Quade got up from his chair to give him a high-five. Grabow feeling good about his knee, shoulder and arm strength was the biggest takeaway from a 6-5 loss to the Oakland As.

The more the merrier, Quade said. We can talk about Marsh, Marm and Woody all day long. (But) we know its going to take a lot more than those guys. You (need) options (when) you go through a tough stretch where you have to pound on those guys two, three days in a row.

Grabow has appeared in 443 games since the start of the 2004 season, which ranks second-most among all left-handers in baseball. But he didnt even make it to the 2010 All-Star break, eventually shut down last summer with an MCL tear and a 7.36 ERA.

Through that experience Grabow learned that sometimes you need to back off, which is what he did recently after feeling tightness in his left shoulder.

The added intensity and the added reps maybe my body just wasnt ready for it, Grabow said. Three or four years ago, I just might have kept on going and made things worse. Now I kind of listen to my body and learn from mistakes in the past. Everythings worked out so far.

The Cubs think Grabow only needs about six more innings to be ready by Opening Day. After spending almost his entire professional life with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he feels added urgency.

Its going to be a great bullpen, and Id love to be a part of it, Grabow said. My whole career this is probably the best chance Ive got to go to the playoffs. So Im going to take advantage of that.

The difference between the Cubs being contenders or playing in front of empty seats at Wrigley Field will hinge in part on Grabow and their remodeled bullpen.

Id love to see him get back to when he was at his best, Quade said. I believe with his knee healthy (and) his shoulder strong, thats what well see.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

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AP

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces of the offseason puzzle as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title while still planning for the future.

The Cubs left this week’s winter meetings in Maryland still involved in the Ross talks, sources said, monitoring an intriguing pitcher they had targeted before the 2015 trade deadline.

The San Diego Padres didn’t really buy or sell during that pennant race and made another curious decision last week when they didn’t offer Ross a contract for 2017. MLB Trade Rumors projected Ross would have made $9.6 million during his final year in the arbitration system.

After issues involving his right shoulder wiped out almost his entire season, Ross underwent surgery in October to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

Ross was San Diego’s Opening Day starter during a 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but didn’t pitch again, clouding a future that once had him looking like a trade-deadline chip and one of the best pitchers in the free-agent class after the 2017 season.

That’s when Jake Arrieta will be looking for his megadeal and John Lackey might be in retirement and Jon Lester will be turning 34. That’s why the Cubs are so focused on pitching this winter and trying to balance out an organization tilted toward hitters.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

Kyle Hendricks proved he will be a pitcher to build around – and the Cubs believe Mike Montgomery can evolve from a swingman into a fifth starter and maybe something far more valuable – but depth is a real issue.

Ross made 30-plus starts in 2014 and 2015, when he earned an All-Star selection and accounted for almost 400 innings combined. He will turn 30 in April and is seen as a positive force within the clubhouse. He has a 6-foot-6 frame, a second-round-pick pedigree and a Cal-Berkeley education.

Reports have already linked the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates to Ross and not completely ruled out a return to San Diego. During an offseason where the free-agent market is essentially devoid of reliable frontline starters, there could be sticker shock, even with a rehabbing pitcher.

Trading for Wade Davis meant the Cubs were out of the bidding for Greg Holland, another All-Star closer who helped turn the Kansas City Royals into World Series champions. Holland spent this year recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but he will still be in position to capitalize after Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and eventually Kenley Jansen reset the market for closers.

With Ross, the Cubs will have to get a better sense of the medical picture and the price for all that upside.

Beyond a winning culture, the Cubs can sell the pitching infrastructure that helped turn Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner and transform Hendricks into an ERA leader and keep the rotation remarkably healthy.

“Those really talented pitchers are going to be in demand, even those that are coming off an injury,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week at National Harbor. “We’ll stay engaged on some of those guys, but they’ll have to be just the right talent.

“We’ll have to feel good about the medical and the return to play. And the fit on the club would have to be right, too. But the true elite guys have a real market, even if they’re coming off down seasons.”

Cubs' MVP Kris Bryant signs multi-year extension with Adidas

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USA TODAY

Cubs' MVP Kris Bryant signs multi-year extension with Adidas

Kris Bryant just keeps on winning in 2016.

Two months after leading the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years, Bryant signed a multi-year extension with Adidas.

"It's a phenomenal time to be partnered with Adidas with all the energy and momentum that the brand has right now," Bryant said via a press release. "Adidas embraced me as part of the family from the start."

Bryant was named National League MVP after hitting .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs. He hit .308 with three homers and 8 RBIs in the postseason.

Bryant first signed with Adidas in 2014 after the Cubs made him the No. 2 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.